Preregistration due today for nutrient field day

An upcoming Field Day will highlight nutrient practices and teamwork. The event "offers an opportunity to see what can be done to make the collaboration bigger and wider."

Extensive bioreactor research in Fulton County will be one of the highlights at a July 16 Field Day near Cuba. Leaders in wastewater treatment, agriculture and research will discuss their work and collaboration to improve water quality. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

By Kay Shipman

Conservation practices and structures to manage nutrients and water are critical and the highlight of a July 16 Field Day in Fulton County.

“Wet years like this help farmers realize there are benefits,” said Albert Cox, manager of environmental monitoring and research with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) of Greater Chicago. “The more water leaching through the soil, the more chance for nutrients to leach into drainage water. These practices help farmers keep nutrients on their fields and reduce nutrient contamination in runoff.”

The Field Day will feature research tours at the MWRD site, 15779 County Road 5, Cuba. Registration starts at 11 a.m., followed by tours from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Preregistration is requested by Wednesday (July 10).

The event is sponsored by MWRD, Fulton County Farm Bureau, Illinois Farm Bureau, University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC) and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.

Researchers will demonstrate interseeded cover crops that retain nutrients and bioreactors that catch and treat nutrients within fields, Cox said.

Another study shows capturing and recycling water manages nutrients and offers long-term benefits, said Olawale Oladeji, MWRD environmental soil scientist. “This year, we have wet weather, but in dry weather, farmers could irrigate their crops with the same materials. It is a win-win benefit for farmers.”

Guanglong Tian, MWRD principal environmental scientist, added the demonstrated technology will benefit farmers “and improve the soil to ensure more production.” Elaine Stone, Fulton County Farm Bureau manager, said, “The MWRD-owned farm ground in Fulton County provides a perfect place to showcase the conservation practices the agency has established. The researchers and staff at the farm were great to work with last year on the Field Day, and the relationship we built with them, I think, has led to what I expect to be an even more beneficial Field Day this year.”

Collaboration widens the research impact  

Lauren Lurkins, IFB director of natural and environmental resources, said, “Our theme is ‘Partners in Progress.’ We are highlighting what IFB and MWRD as representatives of the agricultural and point source communities are doing separately and together to improve water quality. We are excited to share our story not only about what agriculture is going, but also how we are working with MWRD’s staff.” 

“This collaboration is key for us to address nutrient reduction in Illinois using a statewide approach. Individually, we would not see the synergy and reduced cost of statewide collaboration,” said Cox, who serves on the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Policy Working Group.  

Cox pointed out MWRD’s 13,000 acres provide a good site for research and demonstration. NREC helps fund research while U of I offers research expertise, develops best management practices and engages students. Farm Bureau reaches out to the agricultural community.

“Working together on the problems to resolve ... will be cost effective and quicker,” Tian added.

Cox called the collaboration a role model. The Field Day “offers an opportunity to see what can be done to make the collaboration bigger and wider,” he said.

For more information or to register, contact the Fulton County Farm Bureau at 309-547-3011 or

Other Conservation field days ahead:

Aug. 2: Nutrient Field Day, 10 a.m., 12123 Curry Ave., Petersburg. In-field water quality research and sediment control basin study on Menard County Farm Bureau President Brian Satorius’ farm, funded by the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC). Event will start with research presentations followed by field tours and a free lunch.

Preregistration requested to ensure sufficient food and handout materials. Call 217-632-2217.

Sponsors include Menard County Farm Bureau, Illinois Farm Bureau, NREC and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Aug. 30: Nitrogen Strip Field Day, morning, Monmouth, Warren-Henderson Farm Bureau and University of Illinois Extension.